SME builders are disappointed with chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision not to include a VAT cut on green home improvements in the latest budget.

The Federation of Master Builders, FMB, described it as a glaring omission of a long-term plan to make homes greener.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “The chancellor has missed an opportunity to show global leadership with a long-term plan to make our homes greener, healthier, and more affordable to run.

“The government’s commitment to green growth must include backing for a national retrofit strategy – an oven-ready infrastructure plan that will tackle climate change, level up and create jobs.”

The National Federation of Builders, NFB, was also disappointed there was no news about postponing the introduction of reverse VAT.

The creation of a national infrastructure bank with a £12bn fund and a further £10bn in guarantees to finance local authority and private sector infrastructure projects got the thumbs up.

Mr Berry said he hoped the bank would focus on climate change and regional growth supporting Britain’s smaller builders.

The NFB described the creation of the new bank as positive as it would help more development projects get off the ground. It said an extension of the stamp duty holiday until the end of June was welcome along with a mortgage guarantee scheme for lenders who offer 95 per cent mortgages.

Planning process needs to speed up

However, NFB’s housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said there was still a problem with the planning process taking too long. He said the average time for councils to approve applications was two years well beyond the statutory 13-week deadline.

“A couple of hundred million to ensure councils grant planning permissions more quickly would have provided a greater choice and number of homes to actually buy. As it is, the fight for short supply will remain.”

He said extra funding should be on condition councils deliver results with planning applications granted more quickly.

Doubling support for businesses that hire apprentices from £1,500 to £3,000 per trainee was backed by the FMB who claim SMEs train 71 per cent of all construction newbies.

Construction equipment manufacturers welcomed a tax reduction of 130 per cent on investing in plant machinery over the next two years and the ability to carry back company losses for three years against earlier profits.

Developers are expected to watch carefully how the creation of eight freeports unfolds later this year at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside. They will offer areas where business benefit from generous tax reliefs, customs and wider government support.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders would be keen to back both commercial and residential construction projects in these areas.

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